The Times has run-down of what is known so far about Umar Farouk Abdulmtallab. Most you likely already know. Son of a wealthy, Nigerian banker who’d studied engineering in London. His turn toward intense involvement with Islam, if not yet toward militant extremism, apparently began in High School Yet one close friend from those years says they used to listen to music together, watch videos and play basketball. Classmate Charles Anaman said Abdulmutallab was very into studying history and particularly into hip-hop music.
It’s always a little surreal hearing how would-be suicide terrorists, seemingly so alien to our world, were in many ways very much a part of it. But it actually seems of a piece with many others in this group — the commonality is just how cosmopolitan most of them seem to be. Often wealthy, sometimes extremely so, educated in the West and even imbued with iconically American popular culture.
It’s seldom people from the remote reaches of Afghanistan or even the teeming metropoles of Pakistan. It’s people living in the West or on the margins between West and the lands of Islam.